French Authorities have confirmed that a young tiger is on the loose in the nearby vicinity of Disneyland Paris, posing a threat to the popular theme park, as well as several towns in the surrounding area. Authorities have urged residents in the vicinity to stay indoors where possible and if they must travel, to do so in their cars.
The news of the tiger was first released by the town of Montevrain, which sent out an alert on its Facebook page. The alert stated that the young tiger had been seen in a patch of brush behind some tennis courts and close to a soccer field. The field and courts are approximately five and a half miles from Disneyland Paris and within easy distance for a wandering tiger.
According to Cedric Tartaud, the Montevrain Mayor’s Chief of Staff, approximately 60 police officers, fire fighters and members of other security forces are working together to try to capture the animal. Specialists who are employed by France’s Forestry Department have joined the search equipped with tranquilizer guns in an effort to safely put the animal to sleep before transportation. According to authorities, a specially trained wolf-catcher is also among the searchers.
A police helicopter has also been dispatched and is assisting in the search. Tartaud has said that the search effort will go on through the night if necessary and helicopter flights are scheduled to continue into the evening.
According to French Television Station TF1, police have been able to track the animal’s movements after they found a set of its paw prints. Those involved have since roped off a huge perimeter around a wooded area where they believe the animal is now hiding, according to French authorities. The residents of Montevrain and its two nearby neighboring towns, Chessy and Chalifert, have been urged to remain in the safety of their homes until the animal has been captured. Children from the school in Montevrain were safely accompanied home from their classes as an added precaution.
A spokesman from EuroDisney, the operator of Disneyland Paris, has stated that the animal does not belong to them and has confirmed that no live tigers are kept within the park boundary. The Parc des Felins, a nearby wild cat Animal Park which lies roughly 18 miles from Montevrain, has also denied ownership. The park released a statement online saying that all of its tigers and other animals were accounted for. With both Disneyland Paris and the Parc des Felins denying ownership of the animal, the origin of the loose tiger, which is estimated to weigh approximately 150 pounds and be about one and a half years of age, remains unknown.
Disneyland Paris first opened in April of 1992 under the name “Euro Disney Resort” and has been a top tourist attraction ever since. Today, Disneyland Paris claims itself as Europe’s number one tourist destination and received approximately 14.2 million visitors in 2013 alone. According to officials from within the park, no special measures against the tiger have yet been taken inside the park boundaries.
By Mathew Channer